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Lakers Have Party for Bryant's 50th

His final basket puts them ahead for good in a 112-109 victory over the Clippers -- his 40th point of second half after scoring only 10 in first.

January 08, 2006|Jason Reid | Times Staff Writer

The spotlight often belongs to Kobe Bryant regardless of who shares the stage, and he's apparently determined to make another lengthy show-stopping run.

The Laker guard is delivering top-notch performances again after serving a two-game suspension, and he reminded the Clippers who runs things around these parts, scoring 50 points Saturday night to lead the Lakers to a 112-109 victory before a divided crowd at Staples Center.

Tired of talk about the supposed ascension of the Clippers in the Southland hoops hierarchy, Bryant made it clear where things still stand.

"There's a lot being said in the papers about this game," said Bryant, who scored a career-high 62 points in only three quarters Dec. 20 against the Dallas Mavericks.

"At halftime, I just tuned in and said I'm going to over-will these guys. I'm just going to overpower them and go through them, send them a message."

Bryant delivered it with another sensational display a night after scoring 48 points and making all seven of his three-point attempts in a 119-93 victory over the Philadelphia 76ers. This time he scored 40 points in the second half and made seven three-pointers in 15 attempts in the game to help the Lakers hold off the Clippers in the in-house rivals' second meeting this season.

Bryant's running bank shot in the lane with 11.4 seconds to play gave the Lakers the lead for good, 110-109, after the Clippers had gone ahead, 109-108, on power forward Elton Brand's clutch turnaround jumper with 25 seconds remaining.

The Clippers called a timeout to set up a play, but Smush Parker stole the ball from Shaun Livingston and raced the length of the court for a dunk that provided the final margin with 4.4 seconds left.

The Clippers called another play to put guard Cuttino Mobley, who scored a season-high 36 points, in position for a potential tying three-pointer. He made the shot, but time expired before the ball left his hand.

The Lakers evened the season series, 1-1, and everyone acknowledged who had the starring role.

"I wish I could draw a picture of the look on their faces," Laker forward Lamar Odom said of the Clippers. "Not disrespecting them, but it's unusual when you're playing against someone and they can't believe it. For a time, it was like he was on the court by himself. It's like God put Kobe here for us to watch him play basketball."

It seemed that way to the Clippers.

"It was an incredible performance by Kobe," Clipper Coach Mike Dunleavy said. "We made him work for it, but in the end, he just made the shots that counted."

The NBA's leading scorer, Bryant became the sixth player in league history with three consecutive games of at least 45 points, and was the first to do it since Michael Jordan had a three-game streak in March and April 1990.

He made 17 of 41 shots from the field, tying for the most field-goal attempts by a player in a non-overtime game in the last 12 years. Bryant also took 41 shots in February 2003 and David Robinson had 41 shots in April 1994.

Bryant scored at least 50 points for the second time this season and had his ninth game with at least 40, and the Lakers (17-16) needed every one of them Saturday against the struggling, short-handed Clippers (17-14), who have dropped nine of 12.

Bryant, forced to sit out two losses against the Utah Jazz because of a flagrant foul for elbowing Memphis' Mike Miller on Dec. 28, tormented the Clippers to start the fourth quarter, connecting on three three-pointers and a jumper in his own 11-0 run that gave the Lakers an 89-82 lead as some in the crowd chanted his name while others booed.

Behind Brand, who scored 28 points and grabbed 10 rebounds in his 21st double-double, the Clippers went on an 11-1 run to reclaim the lead on Brand's jumper over Kwame Brown, but then Bryant went back to work.

"For me, personally, it doesn't mean much, but the simple fact is I had a lot of people who were friends of mine, calling me and saying, 'You guys win the game or I'm going to have to hear all this blah, blah, blah,' " Bryant said. "I'm getting it from all sides. I can't go to Coffee Bean without people talking about it. When that happens, you want to step up and have a good showing."

It was that and more, the Clippers said.

"It was a situation where Kobe had a hot hand," Livingston said. "He just hit some incredible shots."

*

(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX)

*--* LAKERS 112, CLIPPERS 109

*--*

*--* LAKERS Min FG-A FT-A OR-T A P T Odom...40 3-7 2-4 3-10 4 4 9 Brown...39 3-5 4-7 4-10 3 4 10 Mihm...34 5-12 4-6 4-10 1 3 14 Bryant...45 17-41 9-10 3-8 8 2 50 Parker...24 3-8 1-4 0-0 3 4 8 Vujacic...22 1-4 0-0 0-0 2 3 3 Cook...19 6-9 2-2 1-3 0 2 16 George...9 1-3 0-0 0-0 0 3 2 Wafer...3 0-2 0-0 0-0 1 3 0

*--*

*--* Totals 39-91 22-33 15-41 22 28 112

*--*

Shooting: Field goals, 42.9%; free throws, 66.7%

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